Two-time UFC welterweight champion and Montreal native Georges St-Pierre will face No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck at UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck tonight. Koscheck has played his usual role of the heel leading up to his rematch (St. Pierre defeated Koscheck via unanimous decision back in August of 2007) with St. Pierre and, during time spent as opposing coaches on the currently airing season of The Ultimate Fighter, Koscheck has done enough to ruffle St. Pierre’s feathers. The champion feels that Koscheck’s trash-talk gives him an advantage heading into the fight.
“The fact that Josh was very arrogant with me did not affect my fight — it affected my preparation coming into the fight,” said St-Pierre during a recent media conference call. “There’s three things I’m very good at, and it’s fighting guys that trash talk, fighting guys that come from a strong wrestling base, and especially in a rematch. Josh has those three components.”
A man that didn’t even wrestle in high school, the 29-year-old welterweight champion has become one of the greatest pure wrestlers/grapplers in the UFC, an area where Koscheck usually enjoys the advantage against his opponents. St-Pierre dominated Koscheck with his grappling in their first bout, however plans to keep the fight on its feet this time around and has been working with renowned boxing coach Freddie Roach on his striking.
“I’ve been working on a lot of different things,” said St-Pierre. “The main thing I’ve done, I’ve been working a lot on punching power. I’ve been working on that with Freddie Roach. A lot of stuff I was doing wrong and he corrected. I think Freddie helped me a lot. A few months I’ve been working with him and he changed a lot of things in my mechanics. Before I knew him, I thought I knew boxing, but I found out I didn’t.
“I’ve been sparring a lot with his professional boxers. Some of his guys are world champions. I’m very ready for this fight. I’ve never had a [better] training camp ever [than] for this fight.”
The Montreal native is currently riding a seven-fight win streak with names that include UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Jon Fitch, Matt Serra, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy and Koscheck. In their first meeting, GSP earned a hard-fought unanimous decision against the versatile Koscheck at UFC 74 in 2007, however has different plans this time around.
“In the first fight with Josh, when I was striking with him it was mostly to set up my takedowns, but this time when I’m going to strike with him, it will be to knock him out,” he stated. “Roger Gracie came in and Roger Gracie is a specialist of finishing his opponents when he takes the guy’s back. I’ve been working a lot on that. If I get an opportunity and I get an opportunity for the finish, I will be able to finish him a lot better this time. I want to finish fights. I’ve been very close in my last fights to finish them two times, but I want to make sure to take the time that if I get an opportunity to finish a fight, this time I’m going to take it. I’m the kind of guy I don’t make the same mistake twice.”
UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck takes place tonight from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As always, FightLine.com will provide live coverage of the event.
Thanks to Mark Wayne for contributing to this article.